Top Historic Sights in Shetland, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Shetland

Jarlshof

Jarlshof is the best known prehistoric archaeological site in Shetland Islands. It lies near the southern tip of the Shetland Mainland and has been described as 'one of the most remarkable archaeological sites ever excavated in the British Isles'. It contains remains dating from 2500 BC up to the 17th century AD. The Bronze Age settlers left evidence of several small oval houses with thick stone walls and various artefact ...
Founded: 2500 BC | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Scalloway Castle

Scalloway Castle was built from 1599 by Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney to tighten his grip on Shetland. The Stewart family, as Earls of Orkney and Shetland, had a dramatic impact on both groups of islands. Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney was the illegitimate son of James V of Scotland and one of his mistresses, Euphemia Elphinstone. He was born in 1533, and in 1564 he was given the recreated Earldom of Orkney and ...
Founded: 1599 | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Old Scatness Broch

Old Scatness is an archeological site consisting of medieval, Viking, Pictish, and Bronze Age remains. It has been a settlement for thousands of years, each new generation adding buildings, and leveling off old ones. A broch was discovered in 1975 and has been dated to 400-200 BC. The site is managed by the Shetland Amenity Trust. In the summer, costumed guides provide tours of the site and the replica Iron Age and Pictis ...
Founded: 400-200 BC | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Lunna Church

Lunna Kirk (church) probably dates back at least in part to the 1100s and is by far the oldest building in use for Christian worship in Shetland. The church has an unusual structure, with both of the side walls supported by a series of massive buttresses. An unusual feature on the east side of the church, which is likely to date back to a major rebuild of the structure in the 1300s or 1400s, is a lepers" squint, desi ...
Founded: 1100s | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Tangwick Haa Museum

Originally built in the late 17th century for the Cheyne family, owners of the Tangwick estate, Tangwick Haa was converted into a local history museum in the late 1980s. The Laird’s Room is furnished as it would have been in the 19th century and is filled a variety of Victorian artefacts while the Reception Room displays agricultural tools and household objects from the period. There are also historical photographs ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Tingwall Church

Tingwall Church dates back to the 12th century, though not in its present form. Originally it was St Magnus Church, one of three steeple churches in Shetland. This building survived five to six hundred years, and part of this building may be seen in the burial crypt adjacent to the church. In charge of the Church, and indeed of all Christianity in Shetland, was the Archdeacon of Tingwall, an office that dates from 1215 AD ...
Founded: 1790 | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Scord of Brouster

The Scord of Brouster is one of the earliest Neolithic farm sites in Shetland. It has been dated to 2220 BC with a time window of 80 years on either side. It comprises three houses, several fields surrounded by walls, and a cairn. A sign by the Scord of Brouster states that the climate of Shetland became wetter towards 1500 BC, and that peat forming near the fields eventually forced the farmers to permanently abandon the ...
Founded: 2220 BC | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Gardie House

Gardie House is an 18th-century estate house, unique in Shetland. The Henderson family owned Gardie from the 17th century, and in 1724 Magnus Henderson (died 1753) had the present house built. The builder was a mason from Aberdeen named Forbes. The double-pile plan of Gardie was relatively novel in the early 18th century. The symmetrical arrangement of walled gardens leading down to a harbour was laid out at the same time ...
Founded: 1724 | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Stanydale Temple

Stanydale Temple was a Neolithic roofed building. Today all that remains is a large, walled enclosure. There is uncertainty about the original purpose of the building, but its unusual size indicates some communal purpose, or that it was possibly the home of an important person. The building lies within a field of about 3.2 ha almost completely surrounded by a dry stone wall. The field contains two smaller stone houses an ...
Founded: 2500-2000 BC | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle is a famous ruin and one of the the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The rich and eventful history of Heidelberg Palace began when the counts palatine of the Rhine, – later prince electors – established their residence at Heidelberg. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214 and later expanded into two castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper castle. Until the Thirty Years’ War, Heidelberg Palace boasted one of the most notable ensembles of buildings in the Holy Roman Empire. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning-bolt caused a fire which destroyed some rebuilt sections.

The 19th century brought a new wave of admiration: a sight both terrible and beautiful, the ruins epitomised the spirit of the Romantic movement. Heidelberg Palace was elevated to a national monument. The imposing edifice and its famous garden, the Hortus Palatinus, became shrouded in myth. The garden, the last work commissioned by the prince electors, was never completed. Some remaining landscaped terraces and other vestiges hint at the awe-inspiring scale of this ambitious project. In the 17th century, it was celebrated as the “eighth wonder of the world”. While time has taken its toll, Heidelberg Palace’s fame lives on to this day.

Heidelberg Castle is located 80 metres up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown. Set against the deep green forests on the north flank of Königstuhl hill, the red sandstone ruins tower majestically over the Neckar valley.